THE STORY OF SWANSEA RFC
IN THE 1875-76 SEASON
Playing Record : P10, W3, D5, L2.
Captain: C.C. ‘Charlie’ Chambers
n 1875-76 Swansea were still playing on the Primrose Field ground adjacent to Constitution Hill.
As the playing record shows only 10 games were played in the 1975-76 season illustrating the lack of opposition in the early years of Welsh Rugby. Of these fixtures, no less than five were played against Llandovery College, the others being against Glamorgan FC (Cardiff), Llanelli and Newport, the latter two opponents being faced for the first time. Newspaper reports tell us of two matches played by the Swansea club on the 5th February 1876. In the first game, Swansea’s 1st XV led by Charlie Chambers beat Llandovery College at home whilst on the same day they were able to field a second team led by club Hon. Secretary Phillip Warren, who played Llanelli at Felinfoel and held them to a draw. This is the earliest example of Swansea fielding a second fifteen, which practice continued with the formal recognition of a Second XV at the AGM in 1880. The Llandovery game was described as being played “…on the Swansea ground at Constitution Hill” which refers to the Primrose Field ground. In the second half Swansea had to “play uphill”, a reference to the awkward lay of the land there.
Another milestone this season was reported in The Cambrian of 3rd December 1875 when the newly formed South Wales Football Club (lineal ancestor of the W.R.U.) played their first ever game and A H (Arthur) Richardson of Swansea RFC became the first player to score a try. The match was played at Castle Green, Hereford on November 27th 1875 between the South Wales and Hereford Football clubs and was won by the South Wales team by one try to nil. “The try at goal, entrusted to Chambers resulted in a poster”. Richardson went on to captain Swansea for 3 seasons between 1878 and 1881 (though not actually playing for the first of those). Richardson was one of six Swansea players representing South Wales in that historic match. The others were: Eben Jones, Charles and Herbert Sutton, Fred Meager and Charlie Chambers, who captained the South wales team.
It is recorded that Herbert Sutton was the first Swansea player to break a leg in a game when Llanelli were played for the first time by the Swansea 1st XV on 7th March 1876. The extreme rough play of early matches made tactical play almost impossible with ‘mauls’ lasting many minutes and being little more than muddy fights on the goal line. The high proportion of drawn games emphasises this early trend.